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Cleaning up, drying out

Paul Peirce
| Thursday, May 10, 2012, 11:06 p.m.

Western Pennsylvanians continued mopping up from Wednesday's torrential rains, with residents throughout the Monongahela River valley still keeping an eye on floodwaters that finally began receding Thursday afternoon.

No rain is anticipated in the area through Sunday, and highs are expected to reach the mid-60s during the weekend, according to AccuWeather in State College.

Weather gauges at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, near Latrobe, recorded some 2.45 inches of rain between 1 a.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. yesterday, with most of the rainfall -- 1.54 inches -- falling between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The National Weather Service reported the lower Monongahela crested during the afternoon and continued to recede slowly through the evening. The river at Charleroi crested at approximately 34 1/2 feet about noon yesterday. Flood stage is 28 feet.

However, river flood warnings were expected to remain in effect through last evening in Pittsburgh as the floodwaters headed downstream toward the Ohio River.

The buildings at Lock and Dam 4 in Charleroi flooded with water and debris when the river crested, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The weather service discontinued all the flood warnings for streams and creeks in the region about 10 a.m. yesterday.

Before the floodwater cleared from Finley Road in Rostraver Township, a 30-inch storm drain pipe underneath it collapsed, leaving a hole 14 feet deep. Township Commissioner Nick Lorenzo said the repair work may cost as much as $5,000, but it's urgently needed.

"We're going to lose the road," he said. "We've got to get in there right away."

Emergency management agencies in Fayette and Washington counties received only scattered reports yesterday of continuing problems with flooded basements.

The Fayette County Office of Emergency Management, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and local officials are now beginning the task of damage assessment in the wake of the flooding.

"The state of emergency declaration in Fayette County has not been lifted as of this time," said Roy Shipley Jr., the county's emergency management director.

He said some secondary, low-lying roadways along the Mon are covered, but as of midafternoon yesterday no major roadways were still affected.

"We've had no reports of any injury, so we're grateful for that," said Scott Dolan, Fayette's emergency management deputy.

Dolan said officials from his office and PEMA were surveying damage throughout the county yesterday.

"A lot of areas are still encountering floodwaters, so as that recedes we'll get a better idea of whether the building foundations, roadways or bridges are damaged," he said.

He said the damage assessment is incomplete and will be added to today.

Dolan suggested county residents in need of assistance or wanting to report damage call 724-430-1277. He noted that a minimum of 25 damaged buildings are needed to qualify for federal disaster assistance.

As of yesterday afternoon, that threshold had not been surpassed, according to Dolan.

Uniontown was among the hardest hit with 17 residences and one business damaged, authorities said.

Matthew Junker and David Hunt contributed to this story.

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